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Wear a Mask During a Protest In Canada: 10 Years In Jail 342

Phrogman writes "The Conservative government of Steven Harper in Canada has proposed a new bill that would impose a jail term of 10 years for anyone wearing a mask while 'participating in a riot or unlawful assembly.' The conservative backbencher who proposed the bill makes it clear that he intended it to allow police to arrest anyone wearing a mask 'before protests spiral out of control.' Since this is the same government that arrested hundreds of protesters during the G8/G20 summit using a law that didn't actually exist, it raises the question as to how they will define 'unlawful.' The 10-year penalty is more than double the penalty awarded to a person who murdered someone in a fit of 'road-rage' recently."
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Wear a Mask During a Protest In Canada: 10 Years In Jail

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  • Corrections (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Friday May 11, 2012 @02:08PM (#39969977) Journal

    So far as I understand it, it's not a government bill, it's a bill that a government backbencher is going to introduce. I'm not even sure it's made it to the order paper, but it likely won't survive through first reading anyways.

  • To even suggest.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11, 2012 @02:09PM (#39970001)

    To even suggest this as a law shows they are unfit to oversee the interests of Canadians. The government forgets their role is to be accountable to the interests of the people, not rule over them.

  • No Question At All (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11, 2012 @02:13PM (#39970081)

    (Posting AC because I'm at work.)

    ....it raises the question as to how they will define 'unlawful.'

    No it doesn't. It doesn't raise any question at all. The answer is obvious - anyone gathering for anything that Harper disapproves of will be considered unlawful. Period.

    The sad thing is I really am not joking...

  • Anti-conservative (Score:4, Insightful)

    by uniquename72 ( 1169497 ) on Friday May 11, 2012 @02:16PM (#39970131)
    Nice to see that the U.S. isn't the only country with a "conservative" party that's not at all conservative.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11, 2012 @02:17PM (#39970159)

    How does this interact with face coverings that are worn for reasons other than preserving anonymity? Gas masks to protect you from tear gas? Surgical masks to protect people around you from your flu? Burkas? Big shaggy beards?

    Also, I assume that riot cops who cover or remove their name badges so they can beat people up with impunity will also get ten years if caught? Or is it only people pro-democracy types who aren't allowed to protect their identities?

  • Jail the MPs! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by K. S. Kyosuke ( 729550 ) on Friday May 11, 2012 @02:21PM (#39970245)

    An unlawful assembly is a gathering that causes fear.

    If that is true, it logically follows that the parliament assembly discussing this bill should be jailed en masse.

  • Re:Corrections (Score:4, Insightful)

    by interkin3tic ( 1469267 ) on Friday May 11, 2012 @02:22PM (#39970269)

    but it likely won't survive through first reading anyways

    I said that about the patriot act here in the US. So...

  • by Roujo ( 2577771 ) on Friday May 11, 2012 @02:24PM (#39970301)

    From Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]:

    Under Part II of the Canadian Criminal Code (Offences Against Public Order), Unlawful Assemblies and Riots is when the assembly of three or more persons who cause fear and on reasonable grounds disturb peace in the neighborhood.

    From what I know, at some point during a protest, police may declare a protest illegal if they believe that it will lead to a disturbance of the peace, for example to a riot. It happens on a pretty regular basis lately here in Montréal, and I've heard that once they declare it as such they go around and tell everyone to disperse and leave, informing them of the fact. Now, if they do so in a way that people have a reasonable chance to understand it and GTFO if they'd rather not get arrested, I can't say - I wasn't at any such protest.

  • Re:Corrections (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Friday May 11, 2012 @02:34PM (#39970513) Homepage

    Well, the mistake there was that you expected the US Congress to give it at least 1 reading before passing it.

  • by neonv ( 803374 ) on Friday May 11, 2012 @02:36PM (#39970545)

    According to the article,

    a proposed law that would make it a crime for people rioting or at an unlawful protest to conceal their identities

    The important difference is that it is legal to wear a mask while protesting, but illegal to riot with a mask. That's an important distinction. Also note that it's already illegal in Canada to wear a disguise while committing a crime (Section 351), so this is a clarification of the criminal code, not a change.

    The controversy is in whether police will misuse this to arrest legal protesters and release them later.

  • by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Friday May 11, 2012 @02:43PM (#39970685) Homepage

    A riot is generally not something you easily mistake for an orderly protest.

    Imagine this scenario, if you will: A large group of citizens are walking across a bridge holding signs, singing songs, and chanting. When they get to the end of the bridge, an empty bottle comes flying out of the crowd. Police attack the crowd, ostensibly to protect themselves from the bottle. Chaos ensues, many protesters are beaten and arrested, some are trampled while the crowd is trying to flee.

    Was that an orderly protest or a riot? Include in your analysis consideration of the fact that the person who threw the bottle may be somebody in the employ of the police force.

  • by davegravy ( 1019182 ) on Friday May 11, 2012 @02:44PM (#39970717)

    I'd rather have a few ruffians dressed in black getting away with smashing a few windows and police cars than lose an important right. It's NOT a worth-while trade-off.

    The reason anonymous protest needs to be protected is the same reason anonymous voting needs to be protected. Imagine living in Nazi Germany knowing that the government had a record of you voting or protesting against the Nazi government. And don't tell me society will never again make the mistake of electing a Nazi-like government.

  • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Friday May 11, 2012 @03:00PM (#39970975) Journal

    Let's not put to sacred a mantle on masked protesters. History shows that, by and large, it's the anarchists who put the masks on. The reason you put a mask on isn't to make a point, it's to evade later arrest after you lit a Starbucks on fire.

  • by Cito ( 1725214 ) on Friday May 11, 2012 @03:11PM (#39971141)

    you are not suposed to get a permit if you want to protest...

    permits to protest were added to curb free speech.

    canada and U.S. constitutions give right to protest and right to assemble it dont mention permits...

    permits were added later to curb free speech.

    now they want to curb freespeech and catalog and I.D. every protester and toss them in a database to label as a "troublemaker"

    fuck the police and fuck the government, they keep it up then I am 100% behind burning them to ground and hanging the government offenders by the neck from the street lamps

  • by AngryDeuce ( 2205124 ) on Friday May 11, 2012 @03:20PM (#39971297)

    When a protest is planned and permitted, the appropriate police force is brought in ahead of time, barriers are erected, and the protesting group is cordoned into an appropriate area.

    Thus becoming completely marginalized. This is precisely why protests like this are not done "by the books".

    It's really no different than the "Free Speech Zones" they started breaking out during W.'s term. Keep the people with the bullhorns far away from the tourists so nobody has to look at them or hear what they're saying. You can understand why that's not exactly conducive to a 'protest' actually being effective, right?

    The fact that you were inconvenienced means the protest is working exactly as intended.

  • by davegravy ( 1019182 ) on Friday May 11, 2012 @03:25PM (#39971367)

    It's more important to protect the many good people from the few bad cops than it is to protect the many good cops from the few bad people.

    Today if you are present at a protest which in their judgement "turns violent", and you get arrested, then they need to prove you were contributing to the violence in order to convict you.

    Tomorrow, if you are wearing a mask and are present at a protest which in their judgement "turns violent", and you get arrested, all they need is a photo of you wearing your mask to throw you in the slammer for 10 years, even if you were sitting on the grass singing "Kumbaya My Lord" the whole while.

  • by mhajicek ( 1582795 ) on Friday May 11, 2012 @03:28PM (#39971417)
    If an authority has the power to grant "permits" and "licenses", it also has the power to deny them. If you have the right to do something, that right cannot be denied by the authority, and therefore any "permit" or "license" is meaningless. Any statement to the contrary is an attempt to strip you of your rights.
  • So wear a hospital mask - they're still legal since their purpose is to help you avoid picking up air-borne diseases (after all, who knows what germs the other protesters are carrying around), not to disguise your appearance (which is just a secondary effect/benefit).

    Or do like KISS - lots of makeup.

  • by Jazari ( 2006634 ) on Friday May 11, 2012 @03:50PM (#39971751)
    How did this get modded "insightful"? Can you name a single protest which has been deemed "unlawful" by this government? Don't you know that in Canada it's judges who would make that decision anyway? Do you think your inflamed rhetoric is conducive to legitimate debate?
  • by AngryDeuce ( 2205124 ) on Friday May 11, 2012 @04:14PM (#39972183)

    If I'm trying to just get the fuck to work so I can pay my bills, suffering a delay because some OWS chuckleheads have decided that it's a good idea to form an impromptu road block or occupy a fucking bridge is NOT going to get me to think any better of them or anything they say

    Maybe not, but you will think about them, as opposed to the current, legal method of protest which barely gets a 30 second soundbite on the 11 o'clock news.

    Do you think they honestly give a fuck what you think of their reasons for protest? The whole point is to bring attention to issues that normally do not get attention, and the way you do that is protests just like this.

    How many people were "inconvenienced" by the sit-ins at the lunch counters down south in the 60's? I bet there were a lot people bitching that they just want a sandwich and that everyone should stop making it difficult for them to get one, just like you bitching about being late to work. Sometimes it takes drastic measures to get attention to a problem. It wasn't until the crack epidemic spilled out of the inner-cities that anyone started doing any fucking thing about it. People don't notice the homeless until they have to step over them on the curb or are forced to ignore them when they come by shaking their cup for some spare change.

    You understand this perfectly, I know you do, which is why I'm forced to conclude that your problem is not with the protest itself but the message behind it, which is pretty obvious given the way you describe it. Based on that, I think you can now perfectly make the connection between your attitude and why they don't give a single fuck about you being late for work.

  • Exactly. Can you imagine if the civil rights movement would have followed the same advice? they would have been given 5 or 6 blocks in the middle of the black section of town with a nice barricade between them and the white sections. The local governments would have then shown the reporters the white sections and said "protest? What protest? See, everything is nice here" and that would have been the end of that.

    To expect one to follow rules set up by the opposition (who wants them to fail and who is in bed with the very 1% they are protesting against) is the true height of insanity. As we have seen time and time again the rules they apply to the commoners don't apply to them, so if they don't follow their own rules and laws, why should the serfs?

  • by Uberbah ( 647458 ) on Friday May 11, 2012 @04:54PM (#39972881)

    Oh please, the false flag theories are being thrown around so often and carelessly on Slashdot that this is starting to turn into a conspiracy nut site.

    Nevermind how often they're proven to be accurate, of course. How how many poor Muslims are sent to jail after a informant or undercover officer encouraged them to plan an attack, then provided them with pretend bombs and weapons with which to carry it out.

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